A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

J.R.R. Tolkien and GKC

From Kevin Belmonte's biography Defiant Joy:

In one of his most famous essays, "On Fairy Stories," Tolkien himself described portions of Chesterton's study of Dickens that met with his approval. "We need recovery," Tokien observed.

We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red. We should meet the centaur and the dragon, and then perhaps suddenly behold, like the ancient shepherds, dogs, and horses- and wolves. This recovery fairy-stories help us to make...

Recovery (which includes return and renewal of health) is a re-gaining- regaining of a clear view. I do not say "seeing things as they are" and involve myself with the philosophers, though I might venture to say "seeing things as we are (or were) meant to see them"- as things apart from ourselves. We need, in any case, to clean our windows; so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity- from possessiveness...This triteness is really the penalty of "appropriation": the things that are tried, or (in a bad sense) familiar, are the things that we have appropriated, legally or mentally. We say we know them. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.

Of course, fairy-stories are not the only means of recovery, or prophylactic against loss. Humility is enough. And there is (especially for the humble) Mooreeffoc, or Chestertonian Fantasy. Mooreeffoc is a fantastic word, but it could be seen written up in every town in this land. It is Coffee-room, viewed from the inside through a glass door, as it was seen by Dickens on a dark London day; and it was used by Chesterton to denote the queerness of things that have become trite, when they are seen suddenly from a new angle. That kind of "fantasy" most people would allow to be wholesone enough; and it can never lack for material.
-Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton, Kevin Belmonte, pp. 102-103 (emphasis mine)

(That said, while Tolkien did indeed praise Chestertonian Fantasy, he did believe it had its limitations)

Another interesting tidbit:

Sayer's revived memory revealed that Tolkien knew a number of the poems from Chesterton's The Flying Inn by heart, including "The Song of the Quoodle," "The Song against Grocers," and the famous refrain, "The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road." Tolkien was also quite fond of reciting "The Battle of Lepanto," a fact which Tolkien's daughter Priscilla confirmed. [Source]


Alyssa said...

Wow, I love that!

Mike said...

Call me crazy, but I have a feeling you are referring to the writing by Tolkien in particular more so than the general connection to GKC. lol. :-)

I suppose by now you have finished your annual viewing of all the LOTR movies?